Viewsonic G Tablet Updates Tap 'n Tap UI, But Slate Still Sluggish

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Like the infant from It's Alive, the mutant  Tap 'n Tap UI on the Viewsonic G Tablet was born bad and just won't die. When the 10-inch, $399 Android slate first hit shelves last fall, we reviewed the system and lamented that its powerful Tegra 2 CPU was brought to its knees by the sluggish, ugly custom interface Viewsonic forced on its users. And we weren't the only ones. Despite the slate's 10-hour battery life and ability to play HD videos with aplomb, Staples pulled it from shelves, due to a high return rate.

After the company admitted that its slow-moving Tap 'n Tap UI was to blame for the returns, it issued an update at the end of December, which was designed to improve performance and offer users the opportunity to switch from the ugly Tap 'n Tap desktop to a classic Android. We installed the update a few weeks ago and then watched again today as our G Tablet received an over-the-air update to the latest version, 1.1-3588. We were extremely unimpressed with December's update and version 1.1-3588 seems to have actually made things slower.

While the G Tablet was nearly unusable when it first shipped in November, the late-December update reduced the lag a bit and allowed us to run programs that previously crashed, like Angry Birds. The so-called "classic mode" allows you to switch from Tap 'n Tap's non-customizable desktop to what looks like a standard Android UI. But unfortunately, it appears as though Viewsonic has just put another layer on top of  the bloated Tap 'n Tap shell, rather than actually replacing it with stock Android.

Viewsonic G Tablet Classic Mode

While you're in classic mode, the main differences are cosmetic. Instead of the annoying news and calendar widgets which dominate the desktop in regular Tap 'n Tap, classic mode  has three screens that look just like typical Android desktops. You can put application shortcuts on any of the three desktops, embed Android widgets, and even change the wallpaper. On the side of the screen are stacked buttons for the browser, e-mail client, settings, and return to standard Tap 'n Tap mode. Tapping on the applications shortcut brings you a very classic looking apps menu.

So what's the problem here? Well, there are several issues that Viewsonic hasn't solved:

  • It's not real Android. Classic mode is just another layer on top of  Tap 'n Tap; it doesn't actually get rid of Tap 'n Tap. The top status bar continues to use the Tap 'n Tap UI, which doesn't have a pull-down drawer or the standard Android widgets for battery and network connectivity. The settings menu is still the Tap 'n Tap settings menu, not the normal Android settings menu.
  • You can't task-switch. Holding down the home button doesn't give you a list of open apps like it does in normal Android.
  • You still have the same lame Tap 'n Tap apps. The ugly e-mail client with its limited functionality and faux wood background is still there. There's still no Gmail, no Google Calendar, no stock Android browser, and no Google maps.
  • It's still sluggish and touch is inaccurate. Though faster than the original software build, the current update, version 1.1-3588, still shows noticeable lag when redrawing the screen to navigate around the UI. Even when hitting the button to move from the desktop to  the application menu, we had to wait as the screen slowly faded in and out. A few times, we even noticed a drawing error when we tried to open in the app menu in the regular  Tap 'n Tap UI and piece of the desktop widgets drew on top of the app shortcuts. This seemed to correct itself a few minutes after our update.

    Finally, we also noticed that the screen on the Viewsonic G Tablet did not always respond to our touches. Today, we frequently found ourselves having to tap the same button twice or three times before our tap was recognized. This must be the true meaning of  "Tap 'n Tap."

Because of the continued problems, we still can't recommend the Viewsonic G Tablet. It's amazing to us that, despite the continued problems with Tap 'n Tap and all the business it cost the company, Viewsonic keeps updating the tablet with newer versions of the software rather than helping users switch to plain old Android. Fortunately, if you are a G Tablet user, you can root your device and install your choice of Android ROMs. The XDA Developers forum has instructions on how to root your G Tablet and install one of several different ROM options.

If you're looking for an Android tablet today, you can get a Samsung Galaxy Tab with contract for around the same price as the G Tablet. Better still, you can wait a few weeks for faster and better tablets to hit the market with Android 3.0.

Author Bio
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on
Add a comment
  • S. Westbrooks Says:

    In late Jan. 2012, a new version of Tap UI 1.2-5699, was auto pushed to all current Gtab owners. What a HUGE difference. Now the Gtab is faster and so much more responsive. Nice to know Viewsonic still cares.

  • Tablet Man Says:

    Just flashed my Viewsonic G Tab from Tap n Tap to Cyanogen 7. What a HUGE difference. Now the tab is so much more responsive. I stopped using it because the Tap n Tap interface was so bad, and it wouldn't allow me to use Android market. Now it is amazing, and something I look forward to using. Tap n Tap should be out of business.

  • Russell Says:

    I bought one of these off of Woot a few weeks back - and, once you remove the Viewsonic stock ROM, it's a great device ;-) That's a sad thing to say but it's true. The custom ROMs out there are really good and easy to install. I spent about 20 minutes struggling with the stock ROM (and laughed through most of it because I had already read the reviews) and just gave up and went with TNT Lite 4 and it works like a charm. So, if you aren't squeamish about installing ROMs, this is can be a really inexpensive tablet option...

  • Poor Says:

    New update as of today (04/14/2011)

  • Dadeeo Says:

    Bought G tablet last night, what a horrible UI, flashed Tom to CyanogenMod 7, wow, so much faster. It really flies now. Real market too...

  • mike Says:

    we've had 4 tablets since Christmas....the 4th is now being boxed up for the return. We've experienced the inability to download the OTA update out of the box on the first would download about 75% then stop, multiple times over a 3 day period prior to 12/25. These were Christmas gifts for our kids...they had fun with them for several days then we tried to download the update again, multiple times....back to the store they went (after multiple calls to customer service/support). Waited about three weeks....bought 2 more. Update downloaded great, 1st try. Several days of fun....#3 experienced the screen loop syndrome. Tech support said send they get about 1 of these calls per week & to send it back to the co & they would fix it & send it back to me....i returned it to the retailer. Today #4 will not turn on....yes, it's plugged in, it simply does not boot up. As soon as the roads thaw out here in Dallas, back it goes. I have related our experience to the manufacturer; they offered their appologies.

  • bobtran Says:

    Simply install Launcher pro or ADW launcher, press the home button, check the "always use" checkbox. And then choose your new launcher. Problem solved and these launchers do NOT use the tapntap interface. PROBLEM SOLVED

  • FocusedJedi Says:

    How About you do a side by side comparison performance and feature wise against one of custom roms, the majority of us are technically inclined and would like to see the difference....

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